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Rafi

RAFI

RAFI (abbreviation of Heb. Reshimat Po'alei Yisrael, "Israel Labor List"), founded in 1965 as the result of a split in *Mapai. The original split was the outcome of *Ben-Gurion's political fight against Levi *Eshkol over the *Lavon Affair and of the struggle for succession to the leadership between a group of younger men, headed by Moshe *Dayan and Shimon *Peres, supported by Ben-Gurion, and the party veterans, headed by Levi Eshkol and Golda *Meir. At the Mapai convention in February 1965, the rebels supported Ben-Gurion's demand for an inquiry into the Lavon Affair and opposed the proposed political alignment with Aḥdut ha-Avodah. After their defeat at the convention, they proposed Ben-Gurion's return to the premiership in place of Eshkol. In July, seven Mapai Knesset members (later joined by Dayan) formed a new list, called Rafi, which obtained 12% of the votes at the Histradrut elections in September and ten Knesset seats in November.

At its founding convention in May 1966, representing 23,000 members, Rafi called for electoral reform, self-reliance in the field of defense, national health insurance, free secondary education, and modernization of the economy, with particular emphasis on the full utilization of science. It became part of the parliamentary opposition, especially in defense and foreign affairs, sometimes cooperating with *Gaḥal. In May 1967, during the prewar tension and the discussions on the appointment of Dayan as minister of defense, Rafi offered to return to Mapai bodies, and when the government was reformed after the 1969 elections Peres joined it. The elections were also contested by the State (or National) List (Reshimah Mamlakhtit), headed by Ben-Gurion, which consisted mainly of Rafi supporters and won four seats. In February 1971 (after Ben-Gurion's resignation from the Knesset) it decided to call itself Rafi-State List. Negotiations after the *Six-Day War led to agreement between Mapai, Rafi, and Aḥdut ha-Avodah. When the united Israel Labor Party was formed on Jan. 21, 1968, Rafi received 21.5 percent of the places on its governing bodies. In 1973 the State List ran for the Knesset as part of the Likud.

[Misha Louvish]

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